No success in tracking down Appeal letter writer | NevadaAppeal.com

No success in tracking down Appeal letter writer

Barry Ginter
Nevada Appeal editor

During my years as a journalist and editor, I’ve often witnessed people submitting false information to be printed in the newspaper. Among them were fake engagement and birth notices submitted as jokes and, once, a false obituary submitted by a person spurned by a woman he had been courting.

Like that obit, most of those items are caught before they make it into print, but people can always find ways to get around the precautions newspapers are able to put in place.

Unfortunately, that appears to have happened on the Appeal Opinion page.

The victim was Ron Knecht, a candidate for Board of Regents.

We printed a letter on Sept. 20 that was less than complimentary of Knecht. It was signed by David Botthello, and an address, phone number and e-mail address were given.

After the letter ran, we were contacted by two people who questioned whether Botthello existed, suggesting it was a pseudonym for a person, or a group, without the courage to put a name to the strong words.

What we have confirmed since then is that the author did lie to us by giving a false address. We have also found no evidence that a person named David Botthello exists. No one by that name is on any official records kept in the city, including voter rolls and property-tax payers. No one by that name holds a driver’s license in Nevada.

We’re examining the legal recourse we may have in this matter. There is still a chance that a David Botthello exists in Carson City and is guilty of submitting only a false address. But the author no longer answers his cell phone or returns messages or e-mails.

The logical conclusion is that the Appeal has been duped, and if that proves true, we apologize to our readers.

Someone using the David Botthello name also wrote a letter to the Appeal in 2004, and it focused on Knecht’s political candidacy for the Legislature at the time. Its irony is that, at one point, it questions his courage and talks about how “we Nevadans” conduct our business.

As for Knecht, he’s trying to take it with a sense of humor. I asked him to write his thoughts on the matter. Here is his response:

People think one can go into politics and just do the right thing. Well, when you do the right thing (I helped lead the successful opposition to the GRT), you’re not playing ball with the insider wheeler-dealer crowd that wants to control everything so they can have goodies to dispense to their favored special interests in order to get campaign contributions and other political support. The political insiders need to grow the public sector at the expense of taxpayers and the public interest in order to increase their power and prestige.

When you say coming in that you support limited government and balance between the public and private spheres and that you want to make education work better, not just ineffectually throw more money at it, they assume that those words are just so much grist for political consumption and that you can’t really mean that you’ll put the public interest ahead of being a “player” in the game. When they find out you really do stand for your principles and have the courage of your convictions, they recognize you as anathema and they’ll do everything they can to punish you, get you out and keep you from getting back in because you’re a threat to the good old boy system. That is what has happened to me, and that’s why there’s this endless string of political dirty tricks played by these folks, as well as endorsement support for my opponents by powerful politicians who are incensed I would not play the game with them and sell out the public interest and my principles.

Both parties are guilty in this matter. For the Democrats (except the precious few old-line Nevada conservative Democrats) growing ever bigger government and special-interest wheeling and dealing are their stock in trade. As county Republican chairman, it pains me to say that too many of our officeholders at all levels will mouth the right principles and then tax, spend and regulate like the Big Government Democrats and wheel and deal the same way. A lot of good Republicans, independents and Democrats are being hood-winked by powerful politicians and activists and zealots like those who’ve done the political dirty tricks against me and other really public-spirited folks like Lynn Hettrick who climb into the political snake pit.

I could give you quite a list of similar dirty tricks in the last 2+ years.

•••

Another letter that appeared in the Appeal, on Wednesday, also requires a correction, but not because of any malicious intent.

The letter by John T. Konvicka was about the smoking questions that will be on the ballot and quoted a study by a UNR professor, Dr. Chris Pritsos. It accurately summarized the study but wrongly attributed a quote to Pritsos.

The part that is not true, Pritsos said, is this:

Just being in a smoky casino for four hours is the same as smoking eight cigarettes. Now before you write him off as a radical nonsmoker, here is a quote from Dr. Pritsos, “I smoke, so I probably would prefer to go to casinos that allow smoking.”

About them, Pritsos said: “… the statement of ‘Just being in a smoky … cigarettes’ may have been an analysis made by someone else about my work and printed in some article. However as written it makes it sound like I made that statement – which I did not. I also would never have said that I am a smoker and would prefer to go to casinos that allow smoking because I have never smoked and I do not like being in smoky casinos.”

Konvicka apologizes for the misquote and provided a source for the information that he used. His misquote seems to be unintentional.

• Barry Ginter is the editor of the Appeal. Contact him at bginter@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1221.